Interview with Sho Ando, World Championship Winner Vol. 1

World Kendo Champion, Ando Sho

Persisting with his own style of kendo – no matter what.

Sho Ando (Hokkaido Police) achieved victory in the individuals at the 17th World Kendo Championship, and in the team competition he saved victory for Japan as the taisho. From a young age he has practiced and pursued an orthodox style of kendo, and now he has become one of the most highly regarded kenshi in the world. But he is by no means satisfied with this current station. “I can still grow,” he said. As we reflect on the path Ando has walked and his outlook on the future, we can see a strong essence in how to become stronger.

There were about 1.2 million children born in 1990. Many children would have been adored by their parents no doubt. Many adore their children so that they consider the “devine.” Of course, Sho Ando, would have been no different.

It was only when he was in 3rd grade of elementary school that Ando showed his remarkable talent to the kendo world. At the “Akado” Children’s Kendo Rensei Tournament, which is held to decide the champion of the native Hokkaido, while even competing among older students, Ando Senshu won the entire competition. There is an almost insurmountable difference in physical and mental ability between a 3rd and 6th competitor. As Ando overcame that difference with relative ease, he was no doubt worthy of being called a “divine child.”

Ando Sho doing Kendo Keiko practice at dojo in Hokkaido

When you are young, to your right and left there are these “divine children.” Geniuses, everywhere you look; with the potential to become amazing kenshi. But as you get older, the number decreases. Whether they admit it or not, they leave behind their illustrious titles and become “normal children.” But with Ando, that title never went away. Conversely, as he entered Tokaidai #4 High School (Currently renamed Tokaidai Sapporo High School) and trained under famed coach, Kazuo Yoshida, cemented his place as a top competitor.

Just over a decade ago, I met Furukawa for the first time in an interview. When Furukawa explained his techniques, he would also name Ando as an example. Inside the dojo Ando was a model student, but when the coach was not around he would go back to being a regular high school kid.

The gap between Ando light heartedly joking with his friends and what he shows at practice, a level far beyond that of normal high school students, is one of the most charming aspects about Ando. This is something he has carried over through high school and into the present day.

“I want to win the All Japan Championship.” I only remember vaguely, but I think Ando said those words. And Furukawa, who also coached Naoki Eiga, said that Ando was “Number one in terms of talent,” so I knew I needed to keep an eye on him.

Ando Sho getting interviewed

Upon Ando entering Kokushikan University, training under Michio Ujiie, his capacity was enlarged even further. The first time he had a chance at the number one spot was during these university years. In his senior year he reached the All Japan Championships. Although losing in the 2nd round this time, he showed more than enough for others to expect a continued bright future for him.

After graduating university, Ando joined the police force, returning to his native Hokkaido. As a Tokuren Kendo member of the Hokkaido Police, he continued to polish his sword, aiming for the evasive number one spot in Japan.

In time, he was able to reach the top of the Police Championships and has represented Japan at the World Championships twice. During the 17th World Kendo Championships in 2018, held in South Korea, he took first in individuals and took on the role as taisho in the team division. But Ando’s heart is not quite satisfied.

It’s not enough. It won’t end until I win the All Japan Championships.

As in the past, it is the same today; his eyes are fixed on one thing, and that is to win the All Japan Championships, to become number one in Japan.

Born in Jun 1990 in Hokkaido. He began kendo at Sunagawa Renshinkan, and from elementary school achieved notable results in many tournaments. After entering Tokaidai Daiyon High School led by Kazuo Furukawa, his talent blossomed as he came third at the Inter-High individuals in his third year. At Kokushikan Univeristy he reached no.1 in Japan in both individual and team games. After he entered Hokkaido Police, he has succeeded in many national level tournaments, including two 3rd place results at the All Japan Championship. He has been selected twice for the Japanese national team, and won the 17th World Championship individual games while also played taisho for the Japanese national team.

To be continued

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